Jeremy Corbyn backtracks on meeting Lebanese extremist
Labour leadership favourite Jeremy Corbyn has been forced to admit associating with a Lebanese extremist but insisted he had no recollection of their meetings.
The Labour leadership frontrunner had declared that he did not know who Dyab Abou Jahjah was as he angrily dismissed allegations of anti-Semitism.
But he has now conceded the pair had shared a platform at Westminster in 2009, shortly before Mr Abou Jahjah was banned from re-entering Britain by then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
In a statement issued last night Mr Corbyn said: "My staff have researched this and tell me that I did meet this man in 2009 but I have no recollection of him.
"As an MP I have met thousands of people over the years.
"Because I meet them, it does not mean I share their views or endorse their views."
Photographs have emerged that appear to show Mr Corbyn with Mr Abou Jahjah, who is reported to have told a Flemish magazine in 2004 that he considered "every dead American, British and Dutch soldier a victory".
The Islington North MP initially said he did not know who Mr Abou Jahjah was but has now admitted meeting him after the controversial figure said it was "beyond doubt" that they shared a platform and were "political friends" who had eaten together at meals.
They spoke alongside each other at an anti-war rally and a debate in a room within Parliament in 2009, shortly after which the radical was blocked from re-entering the UK.
Responding on Twitter to Mr Corbyn's claim not to know him, Mr Abou Jahjah said: "Whatever reasons made Mr Corbyn say this are for him to know and for us to guess."
He said that they shared a platform was "beyond any doubt and is documented and resulted in my ban to enter the UK, but maybe he forgot all about it. Who knows?"
He told LBC radio that he had also been present at meals with the MP during the 2009 visit.
"We had, I think, two times lunch or breakfast together so I cannot say that Mr Corbyn is a personal friend but he is absolutely a political friend.
"I am like Mr Corbyn a socialist, and we do share similar values. This does not mean that I agree with him on everything and I am sure that he also disagrees with me on some things," Mr Jahjah said.